A man in sandals: Let the debate begin

CorrespondentJuly 10, 2013 

  • Make your little piggies presentable

    Guys, if you’re going to wear sandals, do everyone a favor and groom your feet. Here are some tips from a pro. 1. Soak your feet in water until the skin softens and toenails are easier to cut. Or do your pedicure after your shower, when feet are moist.

    2. Cut your toenails straight across and use a nail file to smooth out sharp edges.

    3. Rub a pumice stone (in the nail aisle at a grocery or drug store) over rough spots such as your heels.

    4. Give toenails a healthy shine by smoothing them with a nail buffer sponge.

    5. Smooth on lotion to hold in moisture.

    6. Parade your piggies.

    Source: Sweet T Salon sweettsalon.com

  • Make your little piggies presentable

    Guys, if you’re going to wear sandals, do everyone a favor and groom your feet. Here are some tips from a pro.

    1. Soak your feet in water until the skin softens and toenails are easier to cut. Or do your pedicure after your shower, when feet are moist.

    2. Cut your toenails straight across and use a nail file to smooth out sharp edges.

    3. Rub a pumice stone (in the nail aisle at a grocery or drug store) over rough spots such as your heels.

    4. Give toenails a healthy shine by smoothing them with a nail buffer sponge.

    5. Smooth on lotion to hold in moisture.

    6. Parade your piggies.

    Source: Sweet T Salon, sweettsalon.com

Some men live in sandals all summer, airing out their toes in ultra-casual shoes; others hate what sandals do to a good-looking outfit.

Can a guy bare his toes while looking manly and stylish?

Absolutely not, says Bruce Liles, who owns Liles Clothing Studio at North Hills shopping center in Raleigh.

“Sandals for men is not something I would recommend outside the beach or the gym or extremely casual situations,” he said.

He recommends more coverage for the feet: a lightweight tennis shoe, an espadrille, a boat shoe or lightweight canvas shoes.

A driving moccasin, loafer or well-made, substantial leather sandal are other alternatives.

Flip-flop or not?

In the sandal discussion, flip-flops seem to cause strong reactions. You can find pro and con flip-flop sites and rants on the Web.

On the plus side, “they are easy and inexpensive. That’s why people are wearing them,” said Sherrie Mathieson, author of “Steal This Style,” which suggests outfits that look stylish no matter your age.

But here are some cons: Flip-flops tend to skimp on support, they give you weird tan lines, they are a tripping hazard, they tend to look sloppy because they hang off your feet and there’s that awful flapping noise they make when you step.

In People magazine, actor Jared Padalecki, 31, star of the WB series “Supernatural,” suggested flip-flops are for kids. In the magazine’s Father’s Day gift guide, Padalecki recommended boat shoes for going out on the water.

“Flip-flops used to do the job, but you’re not in high school anymore,” Padalecki said.

When you put on flip-flops, “you’ve just toned down your whole look,” says Barone (he goes by one name), director of operations at Revolution, a men’s store on East Trade Street in Charlotte.

“When you think about those, they are just normally made of plastic or rubber, which is thin, and then it has a thong between your toes. So really, how can that be good for you?”

A quality leather sandal looks better and is easier to clean. Leather sandals also won’t hold moisture like sandals with cork foot beds.

“In an area where condensation will happen, it won’t leave that indentation under the foot,” he said. “After you’ve worn some (cork sandals) for a while, they start to look a little nasty. Let’s say you don’t want them visible when someone’s visiting.”

Spruce up the feet

Then there’s the crusty feet problem. Sandals expose what you’ve been neglecting: dirty toes, claw-like nails, ashy ankles, hairy toes, nail fungus and rusty heels.

“I have to say, feet aren’t the most attractive things,” Liles said.

Beyond hygiene issues, weirdly shaped toes, bunions and calluses are some of the hazards to consider.

“Sandals are lightweight and easy, but you need good feet to wear all of them,” Mathieson said.

Salons are cashing in on that need, offering “sport pedicures” to get guys sandal-ready. It’s like a woman’s pedicure, minus the polish: shaping toenails, smoothing out rough patches, massaging on some lotion.

Sweet T in North Raleigh, Orlando’s Nail Spa in Durham, Nail Time in Cary and Euphoria and Pinkies in Charlotte are a few shops targeting pedicures to the guys.

“A lot of the men feel very uncomfortable getting a manicure and pedicure,” said Wendy Groon of Sweet T Salon. “They feel like it’s a lady thing. So ‘sport pedicure’ sounds not feminine.”

The key is to paying attention to how you look, said Barone, who sells Hudson, AG and other high-end denim for men.

“You don’t want to have a sandal you can’t go out in,” he said. “That’s tricky to say, but what it means: You want your sandal to be presentable when you wear your nice denim or shorts.”

Sheon Wilson (sheon@SheonTheStylist.com or @SheonWilson on Twitter), a stylist in Durham, is a writer and creator of the Refresh Your Style makeover feature in The N&O.

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